The Truth About Fiverr: Good, Bad and Ugly
What is Fiverr?
Fiverr is a marketplace that started in 2010. Its name comes from the original price of gigs or jobs at only a "fiver" ($5.00 US) per task. It is classified as a freelance marketplace and offers many diverse jobs and services. Fiverr is considered a micro-task blog, much like other sites like Taskrabbit or Thumbtack, and offers many jobs at comparable rates.
Some of the ethical business services you can buy or sell include influenced marketing, social media or blog posting, business card templates, content creation, and help with websites or promotions.
Fiverr also offers some business services many consider unethical. You can buy fake Facebook page likes, fake Instagram or Twitter followers, fake reviews to boost your brand or hurt your competition, and some services that may violate the terms of service of other websites.
Alternatively, there are unique and silly services which people have thought up to make money. You can pay someone to write things on their stomach and model for a photo, pay someone to make you a puppet video or one with a hamster writing your name in lettuce, or hire someone to call and punk your friends. One man is selling services to pretend to be your boyfriend and make your ex jealous on Facebook.
As of November 2015, Fiverr allowed sellers to charge more than $5 for basic services, and has received over $110 million dollars in funding from investors. According to an article in VentureBeat, back in November 2015 they stated they were handling over a million transactions per month.
The Pros of Buying on Fiverr
Buying on Fiverr is Easy
Creating an account is simple and you can pay for gigs quickly. You can check out right from the marketplace with your preferred method of payment.
The platform is easy to use,
You can communicate efficiently with a console that's easy to understand and navigate, even if you aren't experienced with Fiverr.
You can compare costs and services among many sellers. Each buyer has their own delivery dates and gig offerings. There are plenty of search functions so you can find what you are looking for.
You cand find out information about a seller. You can easily look up a seller's rating or feedback score, or contact them with questions prior to purchase.
Some sellers show samples of their work in a carousel you can peruse before buying.
Remember, Fiverr offers the marketplace, but you deal directly with the sellers. The sellers are supposed to be following the Fiverr Terms of Service and if you find something unethical you can report them.
There are many gigs available in many different areas. The marketplace is huge so you can search easily and compare many services. It's diverse and many things are offered. You may find some crazy services on Fiverr that you never knew existed!
You can often get services cheap or for a bargain price way below the market value. Some sellers are students or stay-at-home moms, and your purchase will help them get ahead.
Poll for Fiverr Buyers
How many times have you used Fiverr® to buy gigs?
The Cons of Buying on Fiverr
You Contribute to an Economic Meltdown
From 2010-2015, Fiverr's original pricing of $5 created an overly competitive marketplace. Although in 2015 Fiverr allowed sellers to charge more than $5, a large segment of users from many countries still sell services at $5.
This has negatively impacted the economy of journalists and freelancers in the USA. For instance, ten years ago a freelancer living in the USA with a good resume might have received $300 for a quality article in an online publication. Now, companies might hire someone with a less impressive resume for $25 for the same article.
Unethical Services by Unethical Sellers
Even though there are many ethical sellers on Fiverr, including me and many people I know, as in the old saying a few bad apples spoil it for the bunch!
Fake Reviews. Some unethical sellers offer services that pose a real threat to American businesses. I will give a true-story example. A catering business in the USA, Big Fat Daddy's, was victimized by a competitor who bought a $5 "fake review" gig on Fiverr. The USA business was pummeled by one-star Facebook reviews by people living in Cyprus, Russia, and India who had never actually used the services.
These types of unethical sellers can hurt American businesses. Facebook won't remove a legit Facebook user or their feedback unless you can prove it comes from a marketing profile. From the photo below you can see this is true. It would be impossible to track down who ordered this feedback and how. This can happen to anyone.
According to Wikipedia, in 2014 Amazon sued Fiverr for fake reviews ... Fiverr worked closely with Amazon to "remove these services" from their site.
Junk Links. For example, a Level 2 seller on Fiverr—who is sure to hit level 3—offers backlink creation using automated techniques that I have personally ordered and found to be partly a scam. The software creates junk links that are often removed from sites in a week or two. When I look them up a few days later, they redirect to someone else's profile page. They also give sellers a bunch of redirect links, which are nothing but fake links which are not really there. However, the seller has tons of orders in queue and gets great ratings. Most of the reviews are positive because the average person doesn't understand that a redirect PHP link, placed after any site you choose to show someone, will work, but really just isn't real. Unless you are skilled in these things you would never know. Leaving bad feedback for a seller who has thousands of positives won't do anything.
Quality of Work
If you do not do your research, your articles or posts may end up on junk blogs that contain so many links you will wish your brand, product or item wasn't associated with them (see my experience below.) It is currently against Fiverr's Terms of Service for a seller to send you a sample link of blog posting. This practice would be so helpful, but one can only assume that Fiverr forbids it because they are worried you will deal direct offsite and not via Fiverr.
Long Work Hours
Your purchase may contribute to someone's longer work hours. The Wikipedia article of Fiverr® mentions of people working harder for less, incurring longer work hours trying to sell services on Fiverr.
My Personal Experience as a Buyer on Fiverr
I have purchased cheap gigs myself on Fiverr for promoting my art or business on websites and blogs. While some of this work has withstood the test of time, over 70 percent of the jobs I purchased just a few years ago, for $5-$15 average, are gone. The websites or blogs are nowhere to be found; when I share them, they make dead links in cyberspace. It's possible that the people or businesses who created the blog didn't want to continue web hosting any more and deleted the blogs, but many of the blogs in question were free blogs on wordpress.com, tumblr, or blogger. You would think they would have just been abandoned and not deleted. This leads me to think some overspammy or unethical practice was happening involving users who could have been expected to delete or sell their blog. This was not good for my business as our links to those vanished blogs became dead links that penalized our website, and we had to take the time to remove them.
I suppose the old saying is clear: you get what you pay for. In a nutshell, the quality of service is not what I had expected, but for only $5 what should I have expected? There are good sellers on Fiverr® who have reputable blogs and websites and offer good sponsored content, but expect those services to start at more than $5.
If you have sold on Fiverr, what level are you currently at?
Only a small percentage of people get rich on Fiverr, but it can be done....
The Pros of Selling on Fiverr
Selling Is Very Easy!
It is genuinely easy to sell items on Fiverr! Account creation is a no-brainer and should take you less than ten minutes. The platform is easy to use and starting to list gigs is very easy. You will provide personal information in order to get started.
It's a nice little extra source of income for anyone, from the professional looking to expand their resume to the stay at home mom or college student.
As an upgrade from when I first joined, they now have ways you can implement videos, photos, attachments, and an easy-to-walk-through layout to help you list your gigs. Be sure to look for the best category when listing your gigs as it may be confusing. Several times they have reworked the different categories for digital or social media marketing.
Currently, I get my funds deposited into my Fiverr account, and later, when I hit a certain threshold, I transfer to Paypal. You can set up Payoneer or bank accounts currently, although options could change based on your location and country.
They have a support forum, and a helpful online forum for sellers where you can read the latest articles and success stories. The community is helpful and you can earn different levels when selling.
Their Cut is Clear
Fiverr currently charges a 20 percent commission—they take $1 out of every $5 you earn. Doing gigs for $5 will net you $4, less any fees you may incur for transferring them.There is no fee for having your online "shop" of gigs, which is a huge plus. The time for release of funds is long, however, and will be discussed in the "cons."
Anything Goes on Fiverr
There are so many things for sale, just about anyone can think up something to sell, tangible or not. From selling a tutorial of wordpress, to redesigning someone's blog, or buying a recorded video of someone dressing like Spider-man and singing happy birthday to your kids, anything is possible.
Fiverr Seller Levels
Generally there are three levels of sellers on Fiverr, but most recently they announced they will be "hand vetting" a new Fiverr Pro's area for "top of the line" sellers.
Level one sellers may be newbies or sellers who have not advanced to level two. According to this screenshot in my seller console on Fiverr, a level one buyer status is earned after 10 completed orders, and 30 days active with a 4.0+ rating.
A level two seller on Fiverr, according to the same screenshot, has completed 50 orders within two months maintaining a 4.5+ rating. A level two seller has more options, as far as upgrades they can offer to customers, than a level one seller.
A level three seller is handpicked by Fiverr, and the statistics do not note how to obtain this status. It indicates they are "hand chosen." I assume with this status comes more bells and whistles.
The Cons of Selling on Fiverr
There are four major cons or hurdles when selling on Fiverr and I speak from personal experience.
Funds Take Forever
The first is that the funds' release takes forever, or so it seems. An order finished by me on April 24th went into finalization with the buyer on April 27th and took until May 8th to release the $8 in funds (the buyer paid $10). Normally, it takes three days for an order to automatically complete once you have delivered it (unless the buyer clicks "completed" first.) Then, it will take 14-15 days on average for the money to clear. Although there's an easy-to-use bar in your panel showing you when the money should clear, it's just quite a long time to wait, considering the buyer pays up front for the service and the service is finalized once the order is delivered.
Issue: 1-Star Feedback for Mutually Canceled Order
Fiverr implemented new cancellation procedures where if you cannot complete an order on time, you may implement a mutual cancel, or if you extend over the due date, the buyer can immediately cancel the order. Unfortunately, if the buyer cancels, Fiverr leaves a 1-Star Automatic Review on behalf of the buyer saying "Seller failed to deliver."
This has happened to me, and now is a topic of discussion in the forums. Many sellers are unhappy with this new procedure. For example, I had an order with a regular customer that I could not complete; I wrote her every step of the way and even gave her extras, but I could not meet her deadline. I asked her to "mutually cancel" the order, thinking the buyer had this button, but she didn't. Instead she hit "cancel order" which automatically left me a one-star review.
When I asked her about it, she said she hadn't even left that feedback, the system did. I asked her to write Fiverr and told her I would finish her work. But support did nothing, and a rep named Bob tried to say I baited my customer and guilted her. Meanwhile, she's one of my regular customers, so I told her I wouldn't be using Fiverr anymore.
If they would have read the original order, it clearly had me offering the cancel. But she hit the wrong button—or the button that was available to her—and the system automatically generated this feedback that was damaging to me.
Frustration with Support
I've been back and forth with Fiverr, and they won't remove the feedback I discussed above. Support claims it's a violation of their "terms and conditions" to remove feedback (even in a situation where the paper trail proves you are right!). Sounds to me like they just don't care about sellers anymore, and that everything is too automated and too big. Thanks for nothing, Bob!
Then they have the nerve to send you a survey....
On Fiverr you will run into a lack of exposure. Just like any online selling venue, there is much competition and many gigs. You will need to self-promote your gigs by sharing them and making sure they are SEO friendly. They give you the platform but you have to do the work.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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© 2017 Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer